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Monument 14

Monument 14 - Emmy Laybourne This review and others are posted at Read, Rinse, Repeat.

2.5 stars

Monument 14 is a decent entry in the glut of YA post-apocalyptic novels. It starts off with a monster of a hailstorm that results in the quite graphic deaths of a number of kids on a school bus. The survivors - 14 kids and one adult - seek cover at a Wal-Mart-esque superstore. That last adult is quickly removed from the equation when she heads out for help. The kids learn from newscasts in the store that the world is going to hell, and they lock themselves inside. The kids do what we expect them to (raid the shelves!), but they also debate whether to escape or to hunker down for the foreseeable future.

Interestingly, while Laybourne's writing style skews towards the young end of the Young Adult spectrum, there are some decidedly non-kid topics: drinking, drug use, a bit of sex, voyeurism, and child molestation. It was a bit jarring to have these discussed in the simplistic narration.

You'd think that the potential end of the world would eliminate cliques, but for the most part, the cool kids stay cool, and the geeks stay geeks. It's also made clear that the popular kids are reckless and dangerous at best and dangerous at worst. The presence of little kids forces some of the older ones to take on the responsibility of caring for them, but oh, my - they became annoying very quickly. They seemed to be there only to whoop and cheer one moment and to start bawling the next.

A strange element is added when the kids start behaving in a variety of bizarre manners. I might be overly cautious of spoilers here by not specifically explaining this, but I'll just say that a certain biological difference among people determines the specific behavior. The way that survivors are afflicted seems like it could have been chosen via a dartboard. Of course, this is a work of fiction, but I can't imagine the science behind these behaviors. Laybourne doesn't give it to us in this book; perhaps it will be explained in the sequel, but for now, we're just required to accept it.

The ending sets up a potentially positive change for the sequel. I'm planning to check it out, but if things don't pick up, it will be time to say goodbye to the kids from Monument 14.